Ridley Wills and Wendell Harmer have found a way to empower their employees to make and follow through on decisions, as well as improve companywide communication and efficiency.
Nashville-based The Wills Company, Inc. has implemented a management team that consists of its two owners, Wills and Harmer, and a representative from each of its divisions — production, sales, office and handyman.
“These people are monitoring the company,” says Wills. “How are we doing? Do we need to do anything different? It has been very effective.”
There is a certain adjustment period in initiating this system, he says. “It takes time. It takes trusting them to listen and follow through on it. It is hard to move to that mind-set — from employee to manager.”
In this manner, the owners are not alone in driving the direction of the company, and they are cognizant of the thoughts and feelings of the employees. Not only does it encourage communication, but it also commits those employees to improving the company, and there is more accountability for the decisions that are made.
The Wills Company also capitalized on an opportunity in the Nashville market to add a division to the business. They run a handyman division as a separate profit center based on the need the saw for professional repair services.
“We were doing it for our clients anyway,” Wills says, “and we realized we needed to market it.”
As a remodeling contractor, it was a natural extension of the business, which handles everything that doesn’t require a project manager. In being flexible, The Wills Company found a way to capitalize on a market need, adding a separate division and a profit center, and growing the business in the process.
“We’re looking for other profit centers as well,” Wills says.
THE WILLS COMPANY, INC.
Full-time employees: 16
Industry memberships: NARI
Annual design/build projects: 49 percent
Residential remodeling: 100 percent
Average annual revenue (including sales, overhead): $2.7 million